Double Feature: Bigfoot Family (2020) & Flushed Away (2006)

Time for the next double feature! This time its an animated film double with a 2020 sequel Bigfoot Family and a 2006’s Flushed Away! Let’s check it out!

Bigfoot Family (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Voice Cast: Jules Wojciechowski, Roger Craig Smith, Grant George, David Lodge, Lindsey Alena, Sandy Fox, Joey Lotsko

Follow up to Son of Bigfoot: Father uses his new fame to fight against an Alaska oil company but when he disappears the son, the mother, a raccoon and a bear head North to rescue him. – IMDB

Having no idea that it was a sequel when started up Bigfoot Family, the good thing is that it didn’t really need the first movie to understand what was going on however, I also never heard of the first film so I guess that’s why I didn’t draw the connection. With that said, Bigfoot Family is rather straightforward and fun type of animated adventure film. It is a bit wild and imaginative especially since it starts off with Bigfoot being quite the man of fame and in the spotlight and decides in his busy schedule to use his popularity to do some good and decides to head to Alaska to protest against some oil company for doing harm to the environment leading him to get caught. His family finds it odd and heads up on a road trip with the two of the animals, a raccoon and a bear to go with them. Like I said, imaginative and fun.

The premise is pretty fun and definitely geared towards a younger audience however, the sense of adventure is there as it jumps between the different members of the family and what’s going on. The only issue with it probably would be that the beginning is more exciting to watching than the ending which felt a little predictable but then this is a family film and most of the time, it is pretty easy to figure out which is I’d expect is great for kids as its more straight-forward in plot. The ending is pretty fast-paced and action-packed but the plot feels a little empty even if it does highlight family and environment messages.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this one. Overall, the voice acting and premise is pretty good. It also delivers a decent message. I’m going to look out to see whether the first film, Son of Bigfoot gets added on Netflix at some point so that I can check it out.

Flushed Away (2006)

Directors: David Bowers & Sam Fell

Voice Cast: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellan, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie

The story of an uptown rat that gets flushed down the toilet from his penthouse apartment, ending in the sewers of London, where he has to learn a whole new and different way of life. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Movies and Tea for Friday Film Club*

Following two stop-motion projects for Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit between Aardman Animations and Dreamworks Animations, their third and final project together was Flushed Away, an all-CGI animated film due to the story being focused around water which would affect the stop-motion elements.

Flushed Away tells the story of a pet rat, Roddy St-James (Hugh Jackman) living in a high-end Kensington home when he gets flushed down the toilet by a sewer rat Sid who decides to live his luxurious life especially with the World Cup Finals around the corner. Following the sewers and pipes, he ends up at Ratropolis which resembles a sewer version of the city of London where he meets Rita (Kate Winslet), a rat being chased down by Toad (Ian McKellan) for stealing a ruby and in the getaway runs off with an important cable which leads Toad and his French cousin Le Frog (Jean Reno) to go in a chase to retrieve it before the World Cup Finals in order to undergo a plan. Between going back to his luxurious life and protecting these new friends that he’s made, Roddy has to make a decision about whether being on the surface is better than the sewers while also trying to save Ratropolis for Toad’s plans.

Flushed Away is a charming film. Very much so when it was first released and still manages to keep its charm in this rewatch especially as it has a lot of pun jokes and movie puns added into the script which makes for quite an entertaining viewing. At the same time, there’s also a decent soundtrack which cues up in certain scenarios with the slugs that are all over the place singing which is both cute and very fitting. Plus, the art is really nice even if it does resemble the design of Wallace & Gromit character styling but the story keeps these characters in check especially with the actors involved doing the voices.

With that said, the cast is pretty good. Probably not as famous for some as they are now since they’ve moved on bigger projects since 2006 which gained them a lot more fame however, they are deliver pretty great voice acting. With Hugh Jackman as Roddy and Kate Winslet as Rita, two actor and actress that are really great in their own regard especially Kate Winslet which makes such a wonderful Rita (but then I do like Kate Winslet a lot). Toad and Le Frog, as the villains are voiced by Ian McKellan and Jean Reno respectively which are also veteran actors while Toad’s henchmen are voiced by Andy Serkis and Bill Nighy also two known names. Its a great cast of actors put together for this animated film that makes these characters so dynamic and fun to watch come to life even if some of the moments are both ridiculous but still very entertaining to watch.

In some ways, Flushed Away almost feels like a hidden gem. Not a lot of talk about it in general and yet there’s a lot of greatness to it both in cast and the animation as a whole. The story is pretty simple and straightforward and rather suitable for kids especially with the cute slugs and their singing however the dialogue is pretty clever overall. Lots of things done right in this one that makes it worth a watch!

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021: Shrek (2001) by Starry Traveler’s Road

Next up for the Ultimate Decades Blogathon is from my (now in hiatus) Battle of Ingredients co-host, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road. While Starry Traveler’s Road is posting far and few the last few months, you can go check out her DIY crafts, gardening and other projects and thoughts. Being a regular of the blogathon, Phoebe brings us a review of 2001 family animated film, Shrek.


Starry Traveler and family review: Shrek (2001)

Big thanks to my Battle of Ingredients co-host Kim and Drew of Drew’s Movies Review for hosting this Ultimate Decades Blogathon! It has definitely been a nice distraction from COVID-19’s brouhaha and caregiving tasks to spend some time trying to watch a movie as a family.

Why did I say, “trying to watch a movie”? The story behind it is, we tried to watch Shrek over dinner, but Bun Bun freaked out and asked me to stop because she finds some scenes scary even if there were some parts in the introduction that she laughed her head off like potty humor. I went on to finish the movie on my own that night only to ask Bun Bun the next day if she wants to try and finish it again while I prepare dinner and dad can watch with her (my husband successfully calmed her down when we watched Frozen 2 for last year’s movie review). They did finish it but Miss Bun Bun did not want to discuss it on numerous days so my conclusion is that I will do future movie reviews alone or with my husband unless Bun Bun volunteers to watch it with us.

Before I go into the movie review, I must be honest and say that I am extremely puzzled by Miss Bun Bun’s avoidance of kids’ movies. She told us that many movies are scary or too sad (she cried buckets when we watched Tigger Movie during first lockdown but she was fine with Zootopia on a flight a few years back). As a concerned mom, I ultimately decided to look up the phenomena only to find out there are other kids like her who find some TV shows or kids movie scary. (https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/is-your-child-afraid-of-kids-movies/) For parents with sensitive kids like Bun Bun, sounds like family movie nights with popcorn are not part of quality family time.

Without further ado, here is a summary of Shrek from IMDB:

A mean lord exiles fairytale creatures to the swamp of a grumpy ogre, who must go on a quest and rescue a princess for the lord in order to get his land back.

Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Writers: William Steig (based upon the book by), Ted Elliott | 6 more credits »

Stars: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz | See full cast & crew »

To be honest, I did not really like Shrek when it first came out. The fact that it was a dysfunctional fairy tale while containing a bad sense of humor did not really appeal to me. Also, I found donkey utterly annoying in capital letters. Fast forward ten years for 2021, I still did not like it except for some of its messages like not judging people by their looks. I did learn to appreciate the strong female lead that I found in Princess Fiona. Her internal struggles about her terrible secret make her very relatable. Her fighting scene with Robin Hood and his Merry Men to defend Shrek was wonderful.

There might be some bad words that are not so good for younger kids (especially those in copycat phase) but I do use some of them when I am extremely angry, so it is not as if Bun Bun has not heard them before. Therefore, I let this category slide a bit.

Music is so-so if I must compare. The only one that stood out was the Hallelujah with some modified lyrics as it went well with the emotional scenes. I am maybe biased as well since I performed it with my choir group in my graduating year.

Graphics are ok for that time period after double checking movies from 2000s as I did not watch that many movies during that time period.

To end, this is my husband’s review for Shrek:

I found it clever in that it inverted a lot of the usual fairy-tale tropes. All the typical expectations were subverted. However, I still do not get why Shrek mysteriously decides to pick up random bits of knights’ helmets and put them on while looking for the princess nor how she fails to notice that Shrek has green skin. Regardless, the movie was funny and decent overall. It probably takes a good amount of knowledge about other fairy tales and nursery rhymes as there are many cameos. I would not necessarily expect young children to have known even most of them. I would consider this an above average movie.

Thank you for reading my little family’s movie review. I definitely hope all of you stay healthy and safe in this difficult period!


A huge thanks to Phoebe and her family for offering up this review!

To see the full list of entries of this blogathon, you can see HERE.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon Kick-off: Spirited Away (2001)

Welcome to the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon..well, the part 2 of it. Yesterday, my fantastic co-host Drew kicked off the Ultimate Decades Blogathon with his kick-off review of Bridesmaids. Today, its my turn to share my first pick as we kick off this blogathon with a slightly new format working with the decades ending in a different digit than an entire decade. As the first one, it suitably starts with years ending in 1. There’s a lot to look forward to for the upcoming entries.

First, let’s get this part 2 released as I share my review of Studio Ghibli’s 2001 Academy Award winning animated film, Spirited Away.

Spirited Away (2001)

Director (and writer): Hayao Miyazaki

Voice Cast (English Dub): Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Paul Eiding, John Ratzenberger, Bob Bergen, Tara Strong, Rodger Bumpass

During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts. – IMDB

After much consideration, Spirited Away is an animated movie well worth a mention as it is the movie held onto the highest grossing film in Japan until 2020. It also won the Academy Awards as the only non-English and first handdrawn animation to win the Best Animated Feature award. For someone like myself that grew up with Hayo Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, it almost feels like the movie that acted as the perfect stepping stone for the world, especially those unfamiliar with anime, to finally get to know Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki.

There’s a lot to love about Spirited Away. It really does embody a lot of the trademarks and drawing style of Hayao Miyazaki as all the characters are drawn in a familiar way especially when it comes to the old lady roles, they always feel fairly similar to each other. Spirited Away is about a little girl who wanders into a world of spirits and basically goes on an adventure to rescue her parents and escape this world. This world can be mistakenly wandered in during the day but at night, the river floods the path and what they thought was an amusement park turned out to be something completely different. With a huge bathhouse as the main building and streets with stall after stall of food that spirits busily chomp away along with the colorful and odd world of the interior of the bathhouse from its boiler room to the bathhouse rooms and the big boss’s headquarters plus so much more, Spirited Away is a beautifully constructed world with so much to explore that offers a glimpse at the fantasy imagination and creativity that Hayao Miyazaki has to offer. As we follow Chihiro (or later known as Sen) go through the building looking for the job, there’s a sense of how big this world is which makes it rather impressive plus the clientele of the bathhouse are unique types of spirits.

There is an array of interesting little creatures and spirits to meet and a story that actually surfaces later on as a little twist. There’s no doubt that other than the story itself, the characters are a real star here whether its Chihiro who has to remember her name after she turns into Sen in this world or the witch Yubaba that runs this bathhouse right down to Kamaji in the boiler room and Sen’s friend Lin who works with her and especially Haku, a dragon that is Yubaba’s henchman. No Miyazaki film’s fantasy world is without its fair share of odd creatures whether its a giant baby or heads hopping around right down to another form of soot monsters (we saw them first in 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro) and so much more. Plus, the spirits themselves also have some interesting encounters that design especially for the two big parts with the Stink Spirit and another spirit No-Face who grows to have a liking for Sen.

Paired up with Joe Hisaishi’s music, Spirited Away is definitely a fun little adventure. Fantasy, magic, spirits all wrapped up into one. What makes it stand out is not only the colorful art and design and world building but the characters that they meet. While the bathhouse is a starting spot and has its own story as a foundation but the story that stems from there also adds a sense of mystery. Is it the best Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film out there? That’s definitely debatable however, it is the movie that takes the first step for the world to know this amazing film studio with an creative director Hayao Miyazaki.

For further reading, you can check out my list ranking of Hayao Miyazaki’s work HERE.


That’s it for the kick-off post! Tomorrow we start off over at Drew’s Movie Reviews with the first guest entry. For the full list of entries, updated daily during the blogathon, you can find it HERE.

Double Feature: Angela’s Christmas Wish (2020) & The Grinch (2018)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wrapping up this year’s Holidays marathon on Christmas day is how it usually works so the next double feature is the final 2 movies of the marathon, although I did have one more alternate Christmas movie but we’ll pair it up later after Christmas. This time, its a animated Christmas films double feature with a Netflix sequel, Angela’s Christmas Wish and 2018’s adaptation, The Grinch.

Let’s check it out!

Angela’s Christmas Wish (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Damien O’Connor

Voice cast: Lucy O’Connell, Ruth Negga, Moe Dunford, Brendan Mullins, Shona Hamill, Oscar Butler, Janet Moran

A sequel to the much loved Angela’s Christmas, Angela’s Christmas Wish is a heart-warming tale of a determined little girl who sets out to reunite her family in time for Christmas. – IMDB

There’s something so heartwarming about Angela’s Christmas Wish. It has that same type of charming little girl character for Angela that continues from Angela’s Christmas (review) where Angela’s imagination is one that makes it so beautiful to be a child because of the naivety to believe in the things that she knows probably isn’t true but also shows her big heart. Last year was keeping baby Jesus warm and stirring up a lot of commotion that the townspeople hasn’t quite forgotten as it still gets mentioned but this year, its running around trying to bring her father home. Being an adult watching this, its obvious that whatever she is thinking up is absolutely impossible to happen and the adults do bring it up, however its the persistence and the pure hope of bringing her father back home that makes this such a heartwarming tale, which takes her on an adventure and makes a new friend in the process.

Wrapping it up with a tale about a pauper and what he wished for that made him happy as a string between the conversation and a Christmas surprise to look forward to, Angela’s Christmas Wish is all about family, the meaning of happiness and the best intentions. The story is all about the kids and their shenanigans especially based on their simple minded ideas that kids have, liking digging to Australia. Its all the world that crafts up these cute funny moments that make up this story and makes Angela such a charming character who has this convincing enthusiasm that makes her brother and this other little girl to follow along her since her wish would make for her father getting involved and that would allow him to spend time with her. Its all these little desires from children to be close to their parents and yet, adults can see through those beyond the lines moment that make it so meaningful to watch.

Angela’s Christmas Wish is a fun and heartwarming story. One that has all the right values and such charming characters in a cute little town. The ending bit was so touching also that I got a little teary. Its one definitely worth a watch, especially since its less than 50 minutes in length.

The Grinch (2018)

Director: Yarrow Cheney & Scott Mosier

Voice cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Pharrell Williams, Tristan O’Hare, Kenan Thompson, Sam Lavagnino, Ramone Hamilton, Angela Lansbury, Scarlett Estevez

A grumpy Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Movies and Tea Friday Film Club*

Based on the 1957 Dr. Seuss book How The Grinch Stole Christmas and the third screen adaptation following the 1966 classic TV adaptation and the 2000 live action film, The Grinch is a computer animated film and the second Dr. Seuss by Illumination following The Lorax. Illumination is rather on point with these adaptation. For those who are unfamiliar of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, its about a green-furred Grinch who was born with two hearts too small who lives alone in the mountains with his dog Max above Whoville. The Whos are festive and love Christmas a lot which rubs The Grinch the wrong way that he decides to put a stop to it by disguising as Santa on Christmas Eve and stealing all their decorations, gifts and foods to stop them from celebrating Christmas however, he soon realizes that Christmas is more than the material things and that its all about the Christmas spirit which lives in them and ends up with this revelation making his heart grow two sizes and deciding to give back all that he stole to the Whos who in turn, take him in for their Christmas holiday.

While the first adaptation in 1966 is the one that most interprets the original story, these adaptations all add their own twists to fluff up the full length. In this adaptation, it gives the Grinch a backstory that makes him less of the disagreeable character but one where he grows up suffering from being alone that he doesn’t know how it feels to have companionship whether as friends or family. At the same time, giving a lot of life to certain characters in Whoville and not just focusing on Cindy Lou Who. She still plays a big element but giving her more of a backstory, a ploy to meet Santa with her friends and a connection with her mom. Sure, maybe it does stretch far from the original but all this does add a lot of fun characters. Cindy Lou Who and her friends are very adorable in design just like Max and the addition of a buffalo and then there’s the very fun neighbor Mr. Bricklebaum.

Plus, there’s a decent cast of voice actors from Grinch by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cindy Lou’s mom by Rashida Jones, Cindy Lou by Cameron Seely and Mr. Bricklebaum voiced by Kenan Thompson. Of course, a big part of Dr. Seuss story is the Narrator. In this case, its narrated by Pharrell Williams who actually has some narration that strays away from the original text but still keeps the rhyming and creative elements.

This adaptation of The Grinch still has a lot of heart. Its light and fun and fairly entertaining. There’s no doubt that The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is its best without all the extra bits but as its straightforward story like the 1966 TV movie, however this version does an exceptional job at making it very entertaining. Its still full of the Christmas spirit and its a great effort as an adaptation plus in my opinion, its much more redeeming than the 2000 live action adaptation. This one might have some slight pacing issues but it still delivers as a family holiday animated film.

Double Feature: Gwen (2018) & The Garden of Words (2013)

As we get back to more frequent double features, we head into the next letter in our alphabet run as we get to G. G selections on Shudder are rather slim pickings so I went ahead and started up 2018’s slow-burn film Gwen and then paired with also a shorter title with Japanese animated film by the same director as Your Name, The Garden of Words. Let’s check it out!

Gwen (2018)

Gwen

Director (and writer): William McGregor

Cast: Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Maxine Peake, Richard Harrington, Mark Lewis Jones, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Richard Elfyn

A folk tale set in the hills of Wales during the industrial revolution. – IMDB

Gwen is a slow pace Welsh horror drama set during the Industrial Revolution, mostly set in the isolated hills where this family of a mother and two daughters live on their farm. Unfortunate situations keep happening as the older daughter Gwen holds up the family and strives to survive while dealing with the farm animals dying mysteriously and her mother being overcome with a mysterious illness. Its a dark story and well-portrayed in its landscape and setting under its dim lighting and gloomy shots.

If we look at the characters, Gwen is played by Eleanor Worthington-Cox who does a really great job in this character. Its a quiet movie so dialogue is much less and there’s more of an observation of the situation and she does that very well. At the same time, her mother is played by Maxine Peake who also captures her role fairly well. There’s some rather “creepy” moments for lack of a better word. The movie itself isn’t exactly scary per se but it is a little unsettling at parts.

Gwen is for the patient audience that doesn’t mind a slow paced horror drama. Its not scary in the jump scare sense but more of a slow unwinding unsettling feeling that goes with where its set and the gloomy darker environment that surrounds this tale.

The Garden of Words (2013)

The Garden of Words

Director (and writer): Makoto Shinkai

Cast: Miyu Irino, Kana Hanazawa, Takeshi Maeda,

A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. – IMDB

The Garden of Words is a 45 minute Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, the person behind Your Name. Its interesting to see that this story also features two strangers Takao and Yukari who the latter is the mysterious woman who we actually don’t know the name until much later when her identity is revealed. The Garden of Words is something of a coming of age as the two characters have their own personal struggles of being a bit of a loner or misunderstood and finding it hard to know how to move forward. It uses the 15 year old boy, Takao’s passion for being a shoemaker and shoes in general as a metaphor for life.

Because of that focus, there’s a lot of scenes that capture the feet with how they sit and position their feet or walking through the streets, etc. Makoto Shinkai is a nice storyteller. His stories, at least the two to date that I’ve watched, has been rather meaningful. Its always about some element of life and adds a hint of romance in it that helps the characters grow. While this story isn’t quite as complex, it does take a level of careful execution to allow the story to work in the realm of keeping one of the character’s a mystery until giving her identity reveal. At the same time, Shinkai always gives these rich in color and beautiful animated scenery. In this case, its capturing the realistic rain fall set in the beautiful garden and capturing the light beams  and such.

The Garden of Words is a mere 45 minutes and because it doesn’t have a overly complex story but still with a little mystery, it adds enough to move the story in a quick paced. Its well-animated and has a rather careful metaphor. The story focuses on two characters with an age gap and while there are some elements of it that feels a little odd at first, its a rather interesting friendship that happens between them. Its a bit unlikely but then its not the friendship itself but rather how it develops emotionally perhaps. The Garden of Words is a quick viewing that’s definitely worth your time if you liked Your Name. Its not the same sort of story but its still a pretty good watch.

That’s it for this G double feature!
Have you seen these two movies? Thoughts?

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Frozen (2013) & Frozen 2 (2019) by Starry Traveler’s Road

Featured Image -- 33207

Next up in Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is from my Battle of Ingredients co-host, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road sharing with us a double feature of a popular Disney animated film and its sequel, 2013’s Frozen and 2019’s Frozen II. After you check out her review, head over to check out her blog where she does event recaps, DIY crafts and recently her updates in from jewelry school. Check out her blog HERE.


DOUBLEFEATURE (94)

Frozen (2013) & Frozen II (2019)

(sing to “Do you want to build a snowman?”) Do you want a movie review? Husband, Miss Bun and I got one just for you! We plan to discuss Frozen 1 and 2 as it really makes sense. We really need to send a BIG thank you to Kim and Drew for hosting us… (tick tock tick tock) for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon!

Our little family saw Frozen during a long flight several years ago and it became a craze around our home thanks to my husband who told me to watch it. I caved in and ended up liking Anna while Bun Bun liked Elsa for her magical abilities. Even our Scholastic book orders are Frozen oriented to the point her educator remarked on it the other day when I submitted the order.

I have no idea where to start but both soundtracks blew my mind. They are both excellent and I really liked how music in Frozen can be found in Frozen 2 like the opening sequences. I love both Let It Go and Show Yourself as they feel empowering. Bun Bun prefers Frozen songs better so I guess that I will be stuck with them for a long time. Husband thinks the Frozen soundtrack was stronger, more original. Missy’s daycare friends’ parents say they thought Frozen 2 songs are better.

I find it hard to judge graphics as 6 years have elapsed between the two. Also, I do not watch movies enough to know what is done as visual effects nowadays. Frozen 2 is definitely prettier.

Scary factor? Bun Bun freaked out in both movies, but definitely more in Frozen 2. We both needed to comfort her at the theater as she asked for daddy. She barely wanted to talk about it when we got out of the theater. As a parent, I think Frozen 2 is scarier for kids under 5 with battles and tragic events as the sisters need to dig up the skeleton in the closet to right the wrong. Husband believes Iduna’s haunting presence throughout the movie also contributed to the eeriness factor. My research has also indicated that it should be 6+.

Husband and Bun Bun both prefer the Frozen storyline. Husband thinks that Frozen 2 had a lot to live up to and was unable to Let It Go. I am okay with both but admit the Frozen 2 storyline was a bit obvious from the start and there is definitely more suspense with Frozen. I also laughed a lot with Frozen 2’s Olaf’s randomness and at a few running gags at Kristoff’s expense. One thing that I definitely liked is aging the characters a little compared to older Disney movies like Mulan and Mulan 2. It is a nice change.

Our overall preferences between the two movies:

Husband: Frozen

Bun Bun: Frozen

Me: Frozen 2

As for other families that I talked to, they are very divided between the two movies with one family leaving midway of Frozen 2. That is it for our review! Thank you for reading! What is your opinion if you watched them?


A huge thanks to Phoebe for sharing her and her family’s views on this Disney double feature of Frozen and Frozen II.

You can find all the posts for the blogathon updated daily HERE.

Fantasia 2019: The Wonderland (2019)

The Wonderland (Birthday Wonderland, 2019)

Birthday Wonderland

Director: Keiichi Hara

Voice Cast: Mayu Matsuoka, Anne Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Masachika Ichimura, Nao Toyama, Keiji Fujiwara, Akiko Yajima

The Wonderland, originally titled Birthday Wonderland, is a 2019 Japanese animated film about a girl who goes to pick up her birthday gift at her aunt’s store and ends up unlocking the portal to the world beyond and is tasked with being the savior of this mirror world.

Right from its beginning, The Wonderful is all about its vibrant and colorful background and its relaxing everyday. Akane’s biggest problem was being accepted at school by her classmates doing the most mundane things like wearing a hairpin. For her, this made her life difficult and everyone else’s hard. Its a good way to start the movie especially as this foundation takes us into the mirror world called World Beyond and she has now been adorned with a Momentum Anchor that makes her move forward even when she doesn’t want to and seen as the Goddess of the Green Wind, the person rumored decades ago that will save them from a major crisis by curing the Prince.

Japanese animation has always seem to flourish when it takes the environmental elements into their stories. For a film that focuses on the world beyond losing color as their main danger due to the lack of water, it still manages to keep it colorful and cute. To emphasize it, there are contrasts of dangerous enemies with dull metallic armor and black clothing with the bright colors used for everything surrounding the group heading towards the castle. While others have buffalo stampedes, The Wonderland has stampedes of huge fluffy sheep and then a scene of Akane and her aunt Chii, who joins into the journey, lying on them (a parallel of My Neighbor Totoro perhaps), and the journey continues into different environments that they go through filled with shades of red, pink, orange and many other colorful elements. There are so many details here and the little magical elements also add into the charm of the visuals especially in the landscape.

The characters also are quite charming, if not still pretty familiar in design. Akane and her aunt Chii create a contrast as well. While Akane needs the Momentum Anchor to move her forward to be more courageous facing different situations, Chii is more about embracing the adventure and being prepared and taking chances. Its this contrast that makes it funny and rather inspiring to watch as over the almost 2 hour film, Akane finds her strength and also embraces her ability to try and save the world because of seeing the beauty between this mirror world that had kept a more old-fashioned way of living in comparison to her reality of modern advanced technology. These two may bring a lot of joy to the film. In fact, the movie definitely falls into the cute elements more especially as the sidekicks are little humans who are a little silly but also very adorable.

Filled with talking cats, underwater aquariums and colorful environments all around, The Wonderland is exactly as its title implies. Even with the crisis that the world faces, it still manages to keep it light-hearted. The visuals and a sweeping soundtrack that sometimes matches to the sounds in the scene and other times, creating the environment for the scene adds a lot to a fairly generic story. Running at 115 minutes, it does feel like it drags a little in the middle part despite all the charming locations giving it a boost. The story could have been better executed as a whole but its cute and colorful and its hard to be a little enamored by it.

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: Lilo & Stitch (2002) – Starry Traveler’s Road

Next up to join us in the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon is my long-time childhood friend, gardening buddy and Battle of Ingredients co-host, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road. Over on her blog, she shares talks about her mommy things like making crafts and watching children movies with her little one while using her own background to talk about life in Montreal and other event recaps as well. There’s a lovely variety of stuff there.  This year, she chooses to review 2002’s Disney animated feature Lilo & Stitch and talk about her little girl’s reaction to the film.


Starry Traveler and Bun Bun review: Lilo and Stitch (2002)

lilo and stitch

A big thank you to Drew and my Battle of Ingredients co-host Kim for hosting the Ultimate 2000s blogathon! This is the third year for Miss Bun and I watching a movie and reviewing it together. Time really flies as she is more willing to stay put to watch a movie and uses more words to describe her train of thought!

To be honest, I have no idea what to watch from 2000s other than Lilo and Stitch. I know there is a lot of obsession around Stitch in general with all the merchandising, but the only thing that I remember about the movie was “ohana means family” which I thought was an important message. I have to be honest that I rely on my gut feelings about any movies rated G rather than looking up other parents’ online ratings before watching considering I like to discuss the movie and other content with Miss Bun as we go.

A Hawaiian girl adopts an unusual pet who is actually a notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive.

Directors: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders

Writers: Chris Sanders (based on an idea by), Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois

Stars: Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere

IMDB

I started off the movie by reminding Miss Bun that this is not real and to not copy what she will see on the screen. She was very spooked by the gloomy beginning where we meet Stitch as Experiment 626 and was scared until it landed on Hawaii. When Lilo misbehaved by being aggressive and exchanged “bad” words with her friends, I asked Missy if it was nice and she shook her head with a no. When Stitch destroyed things, I asked again if that was nice and she said no. I am pleased because it shows me that she understands what is good and bad behavior. I took the opportunity to also discuss anger and other emotions that were felt throughout the movie by all the characters.

Miss Bun was not big on the movie until… she saw Stitch playing the ukulele.

Her eyes lit up and her mood improved as she loves watching anything playing guitar/ukulele. Missy asked a lot of questions about the emotional Aloha Oe scene.

I tried my best to explain things to her while holding her tight, but it did feel a bit emotional. During another action-filled scene, she freaked out and cried for Daddy during Gantu’s chase to capture Stitch and Cobra, the social worker, trying to take Lilo away. He calmed her down so we could finish the movie. I think she liked the ending (spoiler) where Stitch was allowed to stay with Lilo and Nani.

As a mother, I find there are many difficult topics to discuss such as how to explain what aliens are, the social worker and why Nani raises her younger sister Lilo after their parents passed away. I did think Miss Bun handled it well even if Lilo and Stitch is probably better for school-aged children. This is our thoughts on this movie. Hope you enjoyed it!


Thanks a lot to Phoebe for her review of possibly one of my fave Disney animations in the 2000s (because let’s be honest that there were a few that fell short).

To see a full list of blogathon entries to date, head over HERE.

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

I reviewed Pete’s Dragon for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon as part of a double feature, but I never do double features for Disney films due to the segment I’m working on for Baking Through Disney. Baking is going to happen soon but meanwhile, I will keep these Disney film reviews going as I get back into the baking routine. I will however jump right back to watching the movies in order of release starting the next one, which should be Bambi.

With that said, let’s check this one out. If you already read it in the double feature, its the same one posted again here with slight additions.

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Pete's Dragon

Director: Don Chaffey

Cast: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters

An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit. – IMDB

Mary Poppins opened up a world of blending animated characters with real characters and to be fair, there’s a few segments in Pete’s Dragon that calls back to it, particularly the song and dance of I Saw A Dragon which has somewhat of a Chim Chiminey where the bar replaces the rooftop choreography. Its amazing how its taken so long to catch up with Pete’s Dragon and really not know too much about it. Pete’s Dragon is a fun little adventurous tale filled with friendship, family and packs in a decent amount of laughs and emotions, along with a lot of nice musical pieces.

Pete's Dragon

Being a fan of Mary Poppins, the appeal of Pete’s Dragon struck me almost instantaneously especially when Pete’s Dragon, Elliott is around quite a bit and he is designed fairly friendly with tufts of pink hair and wings contrasting with this green body which actually makes Elliott one of the most charming parts. Pete and Elliott’s friendship is an odd one and its also why for a good part of the film, no one actually believed him and took Elliott as something of an imaginary friend sort of deal, which of course, it wasn’t. In fact, Elliott actually parallels a little like Mary Poppins instead he is a dragon that helps kids in need and then moves on when his job is done. Which is pretty much what Mary Poppins does but she is much more there. Drawing comparisons to Mary Poppins a lot here because there was a strong sense of similarities between the two, however, being similar to Mary Poppins is a not a bad thing, in fact, its what makes Pete’s Dragon so much fun to watch.

Pete's Dragon

There is also a variety of other characters. The first being the lady who takes Pete in in times of need with his somewhat eccentric drunk dad who gets into a ton of shenanigans. The dad is played by Mickey Rooney which is quite a funny role. Aside from that, there are the bandit family who are the supposed adopted family of Pete who pretty much tries to capture him back so that he can be their slave. These guys are like the odd and somewhat stupid family who is trying to be mean. It is quite suitable for kids because perhaps for kids they will feel somewhat scary but we all know that they are never going to feel too threatening. And then, finally there are the con artists in the magician or healer character who travels around with his cures with his sidekick. All he cares about is money and he turns into the guy who tries to get Elliott. Because of both the dangers to Elliott and Pete, we can see their friendship as well as the adventure part be fit in tightly into this story and it works to its advantage.

Pete's Dragon

Pete’s Dragon is filled with musical segments. It definitely has a lot of really catchy songs. Some energetic and others soothing to listen to but all in all, rather positive messages all around. In fact, I’d like to think that Pete’s Dragon takes a look at finding a place to belong and not losing hope for a better tomorrow. Its a hopeful film and one that teaches a lot about friendship and just emotions in general as Pete leaves for the big world and faces the situations no matter how scared he actually is about not finding someplace to be and what to expect next. And that is essentially what makes Pete’s Dragon a nice little family film.

Now that I’ve seen the original, I wonder how the 2017 version would be especially probably with CGI for Elliott although I do think that part of the charm of the film was the drawn animations for Elliott.

Ultimate 70s Blogathon: Snoopy, Come Home (1972) by Starry Traveler’s Road

We’re in the final week of Ultimate 70’s Blogathon! Kicking off this week is one of my segment co-hosts, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road with her review of 1972 animated Peanuts film, Snoopy, Come Home. If you don’t know Phoebe, she is my Battle of Ingredients co-host and her blog focuses on parenting, from movies, books and events reviews and recaps that she shares with her little one along with some nice craft ideas. Head on over and check it all out, but first, check out her review in her Movies with Bun Bun style!

Movies with Bun Bun: Snoopy, Come Home (1972)

Snoopy Come Home

Hello everyone! Mega big thank yous to my awesome Battle of Ingredients co-host Tranquil Dreams and Drew for hosting the Ultimate 70s Blogathon! The last two Blogathons were fun so here I am again with my Bun Bun for a new movie review!

I am a huge fan of Snoopy for as long as I remember. I have all kinds of collectibles from a pretty battered tin box to a chess board with Peanuts characters as chess pieces. Given this is an Ultimate 70s Blogathon, I decided to show her one of my favorite movies that I watched again and again on those heavy and shiny LaserDiscs called Snoopy, Come Home.

I am lousy at summaries, so I will go straight to IMDb’s:

Snoopy travels to see his sick former owner and then feels obliged to return to her permanently. – IMDB

I watched many Snoopy movies as I adore the dynamic between Snoopy and Woodstock. I am not sure why this one stands out, but I guess the music (the whistling and The Best of Buddies song) and the fact Snoopy tried to go back to his old owner played a role in all this. Also, the catchy and grave voice emphasizing on “No Dogs Allowed” is funny too –

It took me a few tries before Bun Bun settled down on watching the movie with me. One conclusion is, it may be a little bit long for a toddler’s attention span. Bun knows that I like Snoopy as she pointed to my mug when she saw the character (Yes, I drink from a Snoopy mug that says, “Relaxation is an ART. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE”, very fitting for a mom.) Instead of climbing on furniture and banging on my keyboard like last year, she was asking “whatz this?” or commented “Oh no!” every now and then, so I had to occasionally stop and explain what is going on to her. The movie took FOREVER to finish… it was quality time as we watched it twice together. The first time was cut into two due to her bedtime (obviously tantrum ensued) and we watched it in one shot the second time around while eating brunch.

There are actually a few things that I realized from re-watching this movie as an adult and mom. Societal norms have changed a lot over the last 30-40 years! I stopped and commented a lot to bun bun during this segment:

I told her how tying thick ropes and pulling hard were not the way to treat animals, especially a dog. Not to mention spanking a dog or anything/anybody is not a nice thing to do as it hurts; therefore, she needs to play nicely!

Every time bun bun saw a crying scene, she pointed and said, “Oh no!” It is nice to see she understands emotions and other things as she progressively learns more about the world.

This is it for our movie review! Hope you enjoy the rest of the Ultimate 70s Blogathon!